Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Saturday, 3 June 2017

With Allan gone on his trail clean up (a longstanding committment), I did not go to the Rally for Truth in Astoria.  I don’t like asking for a ride and I don’t like inflicting my bridge phobia on anyone but Allan.  I saw later that the rally had attracted a good crowd (I heard there were about fifty people).  A couple of photos from the local Indivisible group:

What interests me especially about the above sign is that I had sort of gleaned that we were just supposed to have signs on the topic of truth.  I did not think my “Love our Planet” sign would be acceptable for the theme of the rally and did not have time to think about making a new one.  Turns out it would have been fine; had I known that, I might have tried for a ride.  In a big vehicle, though; it’s a big sign.

I’d like to say I was there in spirit.  Actually, I was so exhausted I slept till a shockingly late hour, and then I read the news for awhile.

The cats were no more energetic than me.

I looked at the path over Devery’s meadow and thought about going to the Saturday Market.

The market is just on the other side of those buildings two blocks away.

But I did not go.  I mustered up enthusiasm for putting my Pink Marshmallow fuchsias into prettier hanging baskets.

I don’t much like the faux terracotta look (right).

I looked around the garden a bit, seeking some energy.

pretty daylily

before: The west side garden was my goal for the day.

before, further along

and further along

south end, west side

Danger Tree garden, also a mess

north end of the west side garden, where I left off unfinished last week.

a beautiful Siberian iris

Sibirian iris take up a huge space for a short period of bloom.

Persicaria bistorta ‘Superba’ with half nice new foliage and half old tatty foliage.

a grass which I will ask Allan to dig for me.

Good and bad: Distressed and dying little conifer, and a big bud on one of the peonies given me by Mary Beth

My legs hurt just walking around.  Three ibuprofen later, I was back out with my garden tools, at the disgracefully late start time of 4 PM.

realized willow needed pruning back


Through the fence, the buttercups glowed like sunshine in the meadow.

On my side, the buttercups were huge.

Three and a half hours later (I’ll repeat some befores):





Getting the buttercups out of this corner was a real pleasure.

I even got into Danger Tree bed but at 7 PM I walked away from a great big mess of weeds, having hit the wall.

Fortunately, we have a three day weekend.

I had a revelation that the center of Danger Tree bed is open.  Something small with gold leaves died, I think.  I need to move the paperbark maple into that spot so its bark shows.  I remembered Todd telling me that at Plant Delights, they moved large plants in the middle of summer heat and the plants survived with plenty of water for days after.  I decided to risk it tomorrow.

Skooter wanted a campfire. There was too much wind.

Salvia africana-lutea with brown flowers that smell like root beer.

evening light on the front garden

I hoped that on Sunday and Monday, I would manage to get outside before late afternoon.


I finished the autobiography of Lee Smith, a writer of Southern novels that I especially like.  Years ago, I did not think I wanted to read novels about the South.  One evening in 1988 when I was in Cincinnati with my then spouse, visiting his friend who was having a play (something about moonshine and coal black nights) produced by the city theatre, I picked up a Lee Smith novel on Tom Atkinson’s recommendation, to be polite, because we were his guests.  It was probably Cakewalk.  I then read all of her books in short order and have continued to read each new one.

I always pay attention to what writers say about death.  I looked up the lyrics to this song:

I love the line below, “These ladies were a way I’d never be.”

This passage about writing started me thinking about what it was like to move to Ilwaco (“a stranger comes to town”):

Lee Smith recommends the writer Lou Crabtree.  I especially liked what Lou had to say about being a night owl:

Lou Crabtree

Ms. Crabtree had some comforting thoughts about death:

After Lou’s death:

What Lee Smith thinks about age and wisdom:

Dimestore is short, delightful, moving.  I am following it with The Deepest Roots, a book which I expected to be a breezy memoir about country life on Bainbridge Island.  It turned out be densely packed with information about community, history, Native American and Filipino food, the history of local tribes and the food they ate, farming on Bainbridge and the internment of Japanese farmers in WWII, how pollution has affected being able to live off of local seafood…and that is just chapter one.  It is beautifully written and will be a slow read for summertime. On the day that this post publishes (June 10), the author will be speaking at Time Enough Books at the Port of Ilwaco between 5:30 and 7:00.



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Monday, 15 May 2017

I did not mind in the least that we had a cold, rainy, windy day off, because I had an excellent book to read.  Karla from Time Enough Books had lent me an advanced reading copy. I had started it recently at one chapter a day.  It was much better to be able immerse myself for a whole afternoon in the world of gardening in Japan.


I had been immediately interested in Ms. Buck’s description of the difference between public gardening in California and Japan:



And that was just the preface.  I am completely smitten by this book and consider it perfect in every way, as it tells a very personal story along with expert advice about pruning and about techniques to make every inch of a garden impeccably beautiful.

More, from later in the book, about the respect given to gardeners:




And not just designers are given respect:



I do remember quitting a garden once when I was supposed to follow the design of a landscape designer with absolutely no personal input (or respect).  Especially when I heard that said designer was famous among jobbing gardeners for planting everything too close together.

I learned a new way to think about Japanese gardens, quite different from some of my assumptions:



The passage below reminded me of how I have never adopted the term “master gardener” and feel uncomfortable when people call me that (even though I did once take the Master Gardener class with its 56 hours of training and volunteer time):



The hard work impressed me, in all weather, including winter cold.  While I no longer work such long hours, and in all weather, I used to (although I never did start at dawn, making my winter hours much shorter than the ones Leslie worked at age 34 in Kyoto).


When given the choice of taking rain days off, she was determined to work as hard as the rest of the crew.


This is one reason why today, I felt a bit guilty in my comfy chair reading a wonderful book, knowing that our good friends Dave and Melissa (Sea Star Gardening) still work in all weather.

Throughout the book, I identified with the hard work of full time gardening.



…carry thorns and sticky sap that attracts dirt and sometimes causes infection.”

Later: “We loved pruning, touching the plants directly.  We both understood the monetary and physical sacrifice of working on behalf of nature.”

When I read the following passage, I asked Allan to go across the street to the J’s and give the three small struggling hydrangeas a good dose of Dr Earth fertilizer.  (I could not leave my book, you see.)


I learned of a new-to-me product, cuffs to wear over one’s wrists while pruning to protect from scratches.  If only I had thought of this while weeding among the rugosa roses in the beach approach garden.  This could save much pain in the future.  (I cannot weed in heavy rose gauntlets, but protective cuffs would be just the thing.)

I found some for sale in New Zealand.  I’ll keep searching for some closer to home.



an excellent concept

I was reminded in the following passage of private clients of the past who treated us well:


She had some especially kind clients:


A later passage reminded me of a recurring problem in private gardening: bathroom access.  A few clients immediately would offer us use of their bathrooms.  Others would never think of it even if we were there all day.

I learned a new term, one that explained why I often teared up while reading about Leslie’s gardening experiences:



Author Keane also said the original Japanese word for gardening includes “humans in nature as an inherent and indivisible part of it.”

I could hardly bear for the book to end.  It is rare to read the story of a hard working gardener, whether a highly skilled pruning specialist like Leslie or a maintenance gardener like many I know.  Her descriptive prose beautifully captures the gardens where she worked, and her pruning advice is invaluable and will prove to be of great use and inspiration to me.  I had to stop many times to ponder what she had written and, especially toward the end, to feel some deep emotion.  (A passage that mentioned President Obama brought actual tears.)


It was a good day for Smokey, as well.

I think that during gardening season, it would help me to only read gardening books, for inspiration.

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Monday, 1 May 2017



I was taken aback by completely unexpected cold rain and 20 mph wind.  No!  What happened to our five nice weekdays? Ok, maybe the beach approach garden won’t get done before the Sunday parade.  After all, the parade takes place downtown, not the beach approach.

I decided that I would enjoy a reading day, as did Allan.  I returned to my wonderful birthday present book; Allan had discovered and acquired it for me from the UK.


Smokey loves a reading day.

I was pleased to finish the very funny homage to Bill Bryson’s Notes From a Small Island, in which author Ben Aitken retraces Bill’s route 20 years later.  While much of the book is humorous, I also appreciated Aitken’s occasional serious comments on class.



An amusing passage:


In Lincoln:


More much appreciated (by me) musings on class:



Later, in the north:




I gave the book five out of five stars and I highly recommend it.  There were just a few moments when Aitken suggested Bryson did something that made me think, surely not.  When I cross referenced my copy of Notes from a Small Island, I was right, and now I intend to re-read Bryson’s book while Aitken’s is still fresh in my memory.

I still had plenty of time to read a rather short book that I had somehow missed by one of my favourite authors.


An interesting digression that had little to do with the plot:

And after that, I had time to start (but not finish) a third book, another birthday present from Allan.


I have some reservations about this book, particularly my thought that if you are going to travel from Lands End to John O’ Groats starting off in just your skivvies, begging along the way for clothes, bikes, food, and lodging, it will go a lot better if you are young white men.  These two chaps are the sort who insist on making it quite clear that they really don’t want to share a double bed.  And it does not seem to occur to them to examine why their journey is not especially dangerous.  My feeling when I read Dear Bill Bryson is that I’d love to be friends with the author.  These two…maybe not. However, I am very much enjoying the descriptions of England and I wouldn’t mind another rainy day to finish the book…if it were not for the fact that we are behind on work. (Edited to add…I am almost done with the Free Country book and have enjoyed the travelogue but am AWFULLY tired of being constantly reminded that the two young men are not gay.  They need to grow up!)

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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

As predicted, we had a rainy and windy day.  I felt a little restless about it.  Views as I paced from window to window:




north front


north front


east front


Allan’s study, east


Allan’s study, east


Skooter does not like to go outside in the rain.



I pondered how if I got my whole south window replaced, I could take photos out of the non screened side.


This and one of the front windows is “blown”.

I find it very hard to spend money on things like this.

Just going out on the front porch to take this photo made my hands cold:


Allan did take a few photos on his way between house and shed:




and at the post office:


hesperantha blooming now instead of waiting till fall


one broken lily sprout



Fortunately, I had a big book to read with over 300 pages to go.


No Logo

I finished it by nine o clock, and then watched Deadliest Catch and felt wimpy for not being willing to work in the rain.

I felt blessed that we live in a relatively advertising-free environment.  Here at the “lost corner” of Washington State, we have only two chain restaurants (a rather gaudy McD’s and a low key Subway that blends in), and even though two of our three bigger grocery stores are franchises (IGA and, I think a Thriftway), they are still referred to by their old names (Sid’s and Okie’s).  While we do have billboards advertising local businesses, all but two extra large ones (between Black Lake and Seaview) are gentle on the eye compared to most billboards, and just advertise local motels and resorts.  This makes the Long Beach Peninsula a more restful place to live if, like me, you want to get away from advertising, brand names, and glitz.

Post script for those who are interested: No Logo by Naomi Klein

The book was excellent, even though somewhat outdated (published in 2000).

Some particularly interesting points:

How a certain McD restaurant went after any restaurant with McD in its name:


This reminds me of the local story of how Starbucks went after an Astoria coffee shop named SamBuck’s.  The owner’s name was Samantha Bucks!  (She had done a logo that was sort of a take off on the SB logo.)  Read more about that case here.

A mention of community gardening:


A whole chapter about the Reclaim the Streets movement had this interesting story.



Of course, they lost…


Re child labor, the National Labor Committee, and director Charles Kernaghan:


About how sweatshops and child labor get so much more attention when attached to a brand name (Nike, for example):


More about the Zapatistas (Klein also wrote about them in The Shock Doctrine).  I just very much like what Marcos had to say:



Note to those who care: From what I had read recently, some of the Romany people consider “the g-word” to be a racial slur and would prefer that we use the word Romany.  If you care about that sort of thing, as I do, here is some beginning reading about it.  Google will give you much more.  I’d rather err on the side of politeness so have given up “the g word”. 

Tomorrow more rain is predicted, and I have a book of light reading lined up for a change.

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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

A storm was due, with two gale flags flying at the port.  After breakfast, I thought I just might have time to turn a compost bin.


I got this far before the rain came in earnest.


We’d had this much rain overnight.


a wistful look in the west gate before giving up


No one had gone outside with me.

I did not much mind staying in because I could get back to an excellent book, one I had set aside in order to read two interlibrary loans.  I was very much taken by today’s book and intend to read more by this author.


The premise of Solnit’s book is that most humans behave well and for the collective good after disasters, rather than descending into violence and greed.

I adored the story of the kitchens and camps set up after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.




Solnit said it is “elite panic” that causes death after disasters, like the martial law that was declared after the 1906 earthquake and that resulted in a shocking number of deaths of citizens who were shot while trying to rescue others.  The same sort of horrific law and order and elite property protection violence happened in New Orleans after Katrina.  The powers that be seem to fear the way that the citizens gathered to make soup kitchens and shelters and to care for themselves.  Heaven forfend that anarchy might ensue.


More about elite panic:


There is also a lack of faith that the citizens will resist panic.  In fact, Solnitz presents evidence that in an emergency, people do not generally panic.  The British proved that to be true during the Blitz even though, beforehand, the government had little faith in them:


Charles Fritz wrote this after visiting Britain during WWII:

IMG_1529.JPGWhile Solnit writes about several different international disasters, she focuses most in depth on the ones she could get the most information about: California earthquakes, the Halifax explosion of 1917 (which I had never heard of!), 9-11, and Katrina.  The way people took care of each other and found community makes me less afraid of the always dreaded tsunami (of which we might be survivors, since we live close to a big hill).

You probably know that I have an emotional response to the story of the little ships of Dunkirk, so this 9-11 story had enough tears falling that I had to move the book out of the way.





In another disaster story, I learned about a real life superhero, Super Barrio, who emerged after the Mexico City earthquake.

And about the Musician’s Village, a post Katrina housing project that reminds me of the Rural Studio.


so beautiful, makes me weepy

And finally, a political concept that deeply spoke to me.


If you like to read non-escapist literature, a day spent with A Paradise Built in Hell will give you a renewed faith in the power and good nature of the most ordinary of citizens.  It was just exactly what I needed to hear.

I finished the book just in time to go to a Salty Talk at Salt Pub…but not in time to get there early enough to get a seat. 

 I had intended to pick some flowers.  Instead, I only had time to look at the garden briefly before leaving.


I’m not selfless enough to pick tulips out of my boat…


or in the center bed…

I have some hidden tulips I’d have shared with Salt if I’d left enough time.


“Ever wonder how fast crabs move? Or how fast your crab pot can fill up? Join Curtis Roegner, a NOAA Research Fishery Biologist, as he discusses his group’s work with acoustic telemetry and benthic video to track Dungeness crab migrations and movements in the Columbia River estuary.”

As it was, we could not get a table with Dave and Melissa, who had arrived just before us to find seating only at the bar. Kind owner Julez found me and Allan a little table in the back corner.

Tasty Mac and Cheese


a full house (Allan’s photo)


view from our table (Allan’s photo)


Allan’s photo


Allan’s photo


park rangers listening to the talk


crabby slide reflection


swooping down on a deadhead on our way home


tulips in the garden boat at Time Enough Books


in the curbside garden (Allan’s photo)

We must try to get back to weeding the beach approach tomorrow.  I am inspired to brave the weather because the new season of Deadliest Catch has begun.  It helps me to work harder.



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Friday, 7 April 2017

I’m not sure why various weather services decided to call our storm a cyclone (which I thought was specifically tropical). Nevertheless, they did. Maybe because it looked like this:

Other than the power going out before the coffee was made and heat was on, we had no excitement, and the power outage was only an hour. Portland had more felled trees, including this doozy from a local news station:

I read a five minute book. 

Halfway through this fictional Dunkirk rescue tale, I had to move the book to keep my tears from dropping on the pages. Why does the story of the little ships rescue affect me so deeply? Is it partly because I live in a port town?

I had been looking forward to this storm so that I could read a Mass Observation book in one sitting. 

How I envied the author’s time at the Mass Observation archives. 

I was pleased that the book began with my beloved Nella Last. 

And here I learned that Nella shared my feeling about Dunkirk. 

As with another Mass Observation book (Seven Lives from Mass Observation) by the same author, I wished this book was longer so that it could have more excerpts from the diaries. I would like to read more from one diarist in particular. I’d just like to know this Mary Clayton:

The luxury of reading a whole book in a day made me feel like I was on staycation again.  Allan also had a relaxing reading day with the second of the Swallows and Amazons series.  

Swallows and Amazons forever!

Meanwhile, we had some impressive wind nearby. 

Do take time to watch this video by someone who had to drive to Astoria in the storm along the Columbia River road heading east from Chinook.   Here’s another video with a good view of the debris on the road. 

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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

J’s garden

We managed to start our finishing-up project of weeding at J’s just before the rain came.  We completed the tasks in the rain.


I am concerned about the three small hydrangeas in the front garden.  They had been planted so mounded up that their roots were exposedand they had been tipped over for years.  I mulched around them earlier this spring.  It is possible that they need replacing.  I forgot to do a scratch test for green under the bark.


Survival is questionable; all the other hydrangeas I know are leafed out by now.


weeding project in the back (Allan)


flowering quince


lawn ranunculus (Allan’s photo)


Ranunculus removal accomplished.


increasing rain and wind when we were done with J’s

On an errand, we saw that Black Lake is full to the brim.


Black Lake, Ilwaco


hopes for spring in the Ilwaco Timberland Library (Allan’s photo)


deadheading a few Ilwaco planters in the rain


final tax appointment at our accountant’s office


official greeter


Allan’s photo


Jennifer’s lilies


Our good friend Helen

We were so sad to learn that Helen, age 10, has cancer.  She is on chemo, doing well, and we are hoping for the best.


I read two books for remainder of the day, while Allan (who likes to shop) made an excursion across the river for a big grocery shopping.

I kept all the cats indoors for awhile to keep Skooter company.




Skooter amusing himself with the bag from a belated birthday present from KBC


I finished this book

Negin (pronounced Neh-geen) goes to a wedding in Iran.




After finishing Ms. Farsad’s enjoyable, breezy yet sometimes serious and enlightening book, I indulged in a quick read about home decor.


A photo reminded my of my friend Montana Mary and how when we were in high school, we dreamed of getting a place together right after graduation.  My vision was brick floors (with bricks brought in and just laid on top of whatever floor) and burlap curtains. I had not remembered that for years.  Now, practically, I’d find it hard to walk on and hard to clean.


(Our dream never happened.  Mary went to college in Jerusalem and I stayed in Seattle.  We met up again in London in 1975.  Winter project 2017: To write up that whole tour of the UK.


me and Mary 1973, right after high school

I also liked this idea for large bunkbeds:


Even though we did not finish the check up list yet, I am starting to think ahead about the thirteen sections of the beach approach garden, and more.


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